The History of Forensic Science documentary


>>male announcer: An age-old
battle: good versus evil, criminal versus the law.
Now a new player is balancing the scales of justice: science.
Hair follicles, microfibers, DNA, they’re unmasking
murderers, solving old crimes, setting innocents free.
Now, forensic science. THE MODERN ERA OF CRIME-FIGHTING THE MODERN ERA OF CRIME-FIGHTING BEGAN A CENTURY AGO
IN THE CONSULTING ROOM OF A LONDON PHYSICIAN.
WITH HIS MEDICAL PRACTICE FAILING, DR. ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
TURNED TO WRITING STORIES. IN 1887, HE INVENTED THE
MOST FAMOUS FICTIONAL CHARACTER OF ALL TIME, AND WITH HIM,
A NEW SCIENTIFIC FIELD. CONSULTING DETECTIVE
SHERLOCK HOLMES DECIPHERED PHYSICAL CLUES–
A REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO SOLVING CRIMES.
>>WHAT DO YOU THINK?>>THERE’S BEEN MURDER DONE.
AND THE MURDERER WAS A MAN. HE WAS IN THE PRIME OF LIFE,
SIX FEET IN HEIGHT, HAS SMALL FEET,
WEARS SQUARE-TOED BOOTS, LIMPS SLIGHTLY ON THE LEFT FOOT,
AND SMOKES TRICHINOPOLY CIGARS.>>Fisher: AND THE EARLY POLICE
WORK WAS TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON INFORMERS.
AND THEN ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE CAME ALONG, AND HE SAID,
“YOU DON’T NEED INFORMERS. YOU DON’T NEED TO HIT PEOPLE
OVER THE HEAD WITH RUBBER PIPES TO MAKE THEM CONFESS.
THEY’RE GONNA LEAVE EVIDENCE BEHIND.”
>>narrator: ONCE SHERLOCK HOLMES SHOWED
WHAT WAS POSSIBLE, POLICE OFFICERS AT SCOTLAND YARD
FOLLOWED HIS LEAD. FORENSIC SCIENCE WAS BORN.
19th-CENTURY POLICEMEN STRUGGLED WITH THE DIFFICULTY
OF RELIABLY IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUALS.
PHOTOGRAPHY, BODY MEASUREMENTS, EVEN BRANDING OFFENDERS;
ALL THESE METHODS FELL SHORT. THEN IN THE 1890s,
BRITISH SCIENTISTS DEVELOPED THE LONG-SOUGHT FOOLPROOF MEANS
OF IDENTIFICATION: FINGERPRINTS.
THEY ORGANIZED THE SEEMINGLY RANDOM PATTERNS
INTO THREE CATEGORIES– LOOPS, ARCHES, AND SWIRLS–
ALLOWING PRINTS TO BE CLASSIFIED AND COMPARED.
BY 1903, BOTH SCOTLAND YARD AND THE NEW YORK CITY
POLICE DEPARTMENT FINGERPRINTED SUSPECTS, A PRACTICE QUICKLY
ADOPTED THE WORLD OVER. IN THE DECADES TO COME,
EVEN PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE WOULD LEARN THE POWER
OF THE NEW TECHNOLOGY.>>male newsreel announcer:
JOHN DILLINGER, HOODLUM, BANDIT, JAIL BREAKER, BANK ROBBER,
AND MURDERER WAS HEADED FOR INDIANA TO BE TRIED FOR MURDER.
A SHUDDER OF RELIEF FILLED THE COUNTRY,
FOR THE ENTIRE NATION HAD HOPED FOR THE CAPTURE OF THIS GUNMAN
WHO FROM PETTY OBSCURITY HAD LEAPED TO SHAMEFUL NOTORIETY
AS PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE WITHIN A FEW BRIEF WEEKS.
>>narrator: DILLINGER’S WILD RAMPAGE OF ROBBERIES
AND MURDERS HAD TERRORIZED THE MIDWEST.
AWAITING TRIAL, HE WAS HELD IN A SUPPOSEDLY ESCAPE-PROOF JAIL
AND GUARDED BY AN ARMY OF GUN-TOTING FBI MEN.
HE BOLDLY BLUFFED HIS WAY OUT WITH A WOODEN GUN
AND WAS BACK ON THE LOOSE. DESPERATE TO CONCEAL
HIS IDENTITY, HE DYED HIS HAIR,
GREW A MUSTACHE, AND HAD A SURGEON ALTER HIS FACE
AND HIS FINGERTIPS.>>Fisher: THROUGHOUT HISTORY,
PEOPLE HAVE TRIED TO OBSCURE OR DESTROY THEIR FINGERPRINTS.
AND THERE’S A GREAT LEGENDARY STORY OF JOHN DILLINGER
WHO PAID A DOCTOR $5,000 TO TREAT HIS FINGERPRINTS
WITH ACID. HE DID SUCCESSFULLY OBSCURE
THE CENTER OF THE FINGERPRINTS, BUT THERE WERE RIDGES
AROUND THOSE POINTS THAT WERE EASILY IDENTIFIABLE
AS HIS.>>narrator: FOR MONTHS,
DILLINGER SUCCESSFULLY ELUDED A NATIONWIDE MANHUNT.
THEN BETRAYED BY ONE OF HIS MANY GIRLFRIENDS,
HE WAS GUNNED DOWN BY G-MEN AS HE EMERGED FROM
THE BIOGRAPH THEATER IN CHICAGO. THE BULLET-RIDDLED CORPSE
BORE LITTLE RESEMBLANCE TO A FIGURE KNOWN BY ALL.
BUT THE OUTER RIDGES OF HIS FINGERS PROVED
THAT IT WAS JOHN DILLINGER. 40 YEARS LATER,
THE NEXT GENERATION OF FINGERPRINT TECHNOLOGY WOULD
EXPOSE ONE OF THE CENTURY’S MOST NOTORIOUS ASSASSINS.
ON APRIL 4, 1968, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WAS SHOT TO DEATH ON THE BALCONY
OF A MEMPHIS MOTEL. IN A ROOM ACROSS THE STREET,
POLICE RECOVERED THE KILLER’S RIFLE.
NEARLY WIPED CLEAN, THE RIFLE BUTT CONTAINED
THE PARTIAL PRINT OF A SINGLE FINGER.
WITH FEW OTHER LEADS, A MASSIVE EFFORT WAS MADE
TO IDENTIFY THE PRINT.>>THE FBI EXAMINERS
LITERALLY BROKE UP INTO GROUPS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIVIDUALS.
AND ONE BY ONE, THEY WENT THROUGH
THOSE FINGERPRINT CARDS, MANUALLY SEARCHING
THE FINGERPRINTS FOUND AT THAT SCENE AGAINST MILLIONS
OF CARD FILES.>>narrator: BUT THE FBI FILES
CONTAINED OVER 50 MILLION PRINTS–TOO MANY
FOR ANY MANUAL SEARCH. FOR THE FIRST TIME
IN FINGERPRINTING HISTORY, A RUDIMENTARY COMPUTER
NARROWED THE FIELD. IT SELECTED OUT THE FINGERPRINT
CARDS OF WANTED FELONS, A MANAGEABLE 2,000 NAMES.
>>Fisher: AND THEY WERE GONNA GO THROUGH EVERY ONE
OF THOSE 2,000 CARDS AND SEE IF THEY COULD MAKE
A MATCH. JUST AFTER THEY STARTED,
SOMEBODY SAID, “I GOT HIM.” AND EVERYBODY LAUGHED
AND ASSUMED HE WAS KIDDING. HE SAID, “NO, I’M NOT KIDDING.
THIS IS HIM. THIS IS THE GUY.”
IT WAS MAYBE THE THIRD OR FOURTH CARD THEY LOOKED AT,
AND IT WAS JAMES EARL RAY. AND THAT’S HOW
HE WAS IDENTIFIED.>>narrator: RAY’S PRINTS
WERE TRACED TO MAPS, HOTEL ROOMS, AND CAR KEYS
ACROSS THE SOUTH. INVESTIGATORS FOLLOWED A TRAIL
OF FAKE IDs FROM CITY TO CITY AND ACROSS THE ATLANTIC.
FINALLY, THE FBI AND INTERPOL TRACKED HIM TO LONDON,
WHERE HE WAS APPREHENDED. RAY PLEADED GUILTY
TO KILLING KING AND WAS SENTENCED TO 99 YEARS
IN PRISON. IN RECENT YEARS,
COMPUTERS HAVE EVOLVED INTO AN ESSENTIAL PART
OF FINGERPRINTING TECHNOLOGY. THE AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT
IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM, OR AFIS, COMPARES THE RIDGES AND SWIRLS
OF MILLIONS OF PRINTS AT INCREDIBLE SPEED.
>>WHEN A LATENT FINGERPRINT IS FOUND AT THE SCENE OF A CRIME,
IT CAN BE LIFTED, IMAGED, SEARCHED AGAINST A DATABASE
OF MILLIONS OF INDIVIDUALS, AND WITH A MATTER OF MINUTES,
IDENTIFY AN INDIVIDUAL.>>narrator:
NEW IMAGING TECHNIQUES ALLOW MODERN INVESTIGATORS TO DETECT
PREVIOUSLY INVISIBLE PRINTS.>>Fisher: IT USED TO BE,
AT A CRIME SCENE, THEY’D TURN ON ALL THE LIGHTS
AS BRIGHTLY AS THEY COULD. IT WAS “THEY WOULD SHED
SOME LIGHT ON THE CRIME.” NOW WHAT THEY DO
IS THEY TURN OUT THE LIGHTS AND THEY PUT ON INFRARED DETECTORS,
HEAT DETECTORS. THEY USE ALL KINDS
OF DIFFERENT DEVICES TO FIND THINGS THAT CAN’T BE SEEN
BY THE NAKED EYE, BUT WHICH MAY VERY WELL BE
GOOD LEAD EVIDENCE.>>narrator: NEW TECHNOLOGIES
CAN SOLVE OLD MYSTERIES. IN 1982, VALERIAN TRIFA,
ROMANIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP OF CLEVELAND, WAS ACCUSED
OF COLLABORATING WITH THE NAZIS IN WORLD WAR II.
THE CASE HINGED ON A KEY PIECE OF EVIDENCE:
A 1942 POSTCARD FROM TRIFA PLEDGING LOYALTY
TO SS CHIEF HEINRICH HIMMLER. TRIFA DENIED ANY CONTACT
WITH HIMMLER, CALLING THE POSTCARD A FORGERY.
THE WEST GERMAN GOVERNMENT PERMITTED THE FBI TO INSPECT
THE DOCUMENT ON THE CONDITION THAT IT NOT BE DAMAGED.
FORCED TO FORGO THEIR NORMAL METHODS,
AGENTS EXAMINED THE CARD WITH A MACHINE
NEW TO THE FBI LAB: A LASER.
UNDER AN INTENSE LASER BEAM, HUMAN OIL SOAKED INTO THE PAPER
40 YEARS EARLIER BECAME VISIBLE. THE FAINT OUTLINES
OF A HIDDEN FINGERPRINT CAME TO LIFE.
IT MATCHED THE PRINTS ON TRIFA’S U.S. CITIZENSHIP PAPERS,
AND HE WAS DEPORTED. A 1940s CRIMINAL
UNDONE BY 1980s TECHNOLOGY. LIKE TRIFA, MANY CRIMINALS
ARE TRIPPED UP BY CLUES THEY HAD NO IDEA
THEY WERE LEAVING. AS THE INFAMOUS ATLANTA
CHILD KILLER WOULD LEARN, IN THE RIGHT HAND,
THE TINIEST THREAD OF EVIDENCE CAN TRAP A SERIAL KILLER.
>>narrator: An old Chinese proverb states that everything
may depend on the difference between two hairs.
For modern criminologists, the telling similarities between
hairs and between fibers speak volumes.
The last 50 years has seen an explosion in the manufacture of
man-made fibers, creating a boom for fashion designers and crime
fighters. Beginning in July 1979,
a series of murders terrorized the citizens of Atlanta.
For almost two agonizing years, the strangled bodies of young
men and boys appeared at the rate of more than one a month.
All the victims were African Americans, raising the ugly
specter of a racist serial killer.
Fear and panic gripped the city.
>>For 16 months, the puzzling children’s cases unraveled with
almost horrifying certainty, producing scenes of small bodies
draped in white sheets. Since July of 1979,
11 bodies have been discovered, and four children
have been reported missing. In 1979, there were four deaths.
>>narrator: The only physical evidence connecting the killings
were tiny violet and greenish-yellow carpet fibers
found on several victims. A special FBI Atlanta task force
began a massive effort to trace the fibers
to their origins.>>The carpet fibers
were quite unusual. They had unusual
characteristics, unusual properties.
We had a difficult time identifying who manufactured
these fibers. In a way, that’s good,
because the more uncommon a particular item is,
the smaller the chance that you’re going to find it
just in a coincidental residence or a car.
>>The only tentative evidence that may connect him–
and I emphasize may connect him–to the cases
is some fiber evidence. Is that right?
>>narrator: When the press made the fiber evidence public,
the killer responded by changing his methods.
He began stripping victims and dumping their bodies in rivers,
presumably to remove any telltale fibers.
Police countered by staking out the major rivers in the
Atlanta metropolitan area. On May 22, 1981,
a surveillance team hidden beneath a bridge spanning
the Chattahoochee River heard a loud splash
followed by a car slowly driving off the bridge.
The African-American driver was stopped and arrested.
His name: Wayne Williams. Two days later, the naked body
of the latest victim was pulled from the river
one mile downstream. In the corpse’s hair:
one greenish-yellow fiber. Agents searched Williams’ home
and discovered a bedroom carpet of the same color,
its strands an exact match of the fibers found
on so many victims. It was the first of many matches
that proved his guilt.>>They associated
Wayne Williams through dog hairs,
through carpet hairs, through all kinds of fibers
from clothing. It was the first time in history
that a major prosecution had been based almost solely
on hair and fiber evidence.>>narrator: Williams was
convicted of two of the murders and sentenced to life in jail.
This landmark prosecution boosted the importance
of hair and fiber evidence, leading to its use
even in cases where the victims were never recovered.
>>One of the extraordinary uses of hair and fiber evidence
was in solving the kidnapping of a little girl
named Melissa Brannen. She was with her mother
at a Christmas party. Her mother turned around,
and she was gone. And she was never seen again.
>>narrator: December 3, 1989, began as a joyous
Christmas celebration for five-year-old Melissa Brannen
of Fairfax, Virginia.>>♪ Rudolph, with your nose ♪
♪ so bright, won’t you guide ♪ ♪ my sleigh tonight? ♪
>>narrator: At 10:00 p.m., Melissa suddenly vanished
from the party. Virginia police immediately
began an exhaustive effort to find her,
stopping nearby motorists, scouring the area for clues.
Throughout that frigid wintry night and into the next day,
police, soldiers, and volunteers searched the woods and rivers
for any trace of the little girl.
>>narrator: In the hours immediately after Melissa’s
disappearance, police questioned those present at the party.
One man, Cal Hughes, had left at 10:00 p.m.,
although no one saw him with the little girl.
When police reached Hughes at his home at 1:00 a.m.,
he was busy washing his clothes from that evening,
including his belt and shoes. When Hughes denied that Melissa
had ever been in his car, FBI agents used tape to collect
hundreds of fibers from the vehicle.
FBI special agent Doug Dietrich examined the fibers.
With a young daughter of his own the same age as Melissa,
Dietrich toiled with an extra measure of determination.
He quickly identified black rabbit hairs
from the car seat, matching them to a coat worn
by Melissa’s mother. The tiny strands had traveled
from mother to daughter to Cal Hughes’ car.
The match put Melissa in Hughes’ car.
But the evidence was too slim to arrest him.
Dietrich faced a dilemma. With Melissa and her clothes
still missing, how could he make further matches?
Then he hit upon the unprecedented idea of recreating
the Sesame Street outfit Melissa had worn that night.
The clothes were traced to a J.C. Penney mail order catalog
and arrangements made to obtain a duplicate set.
Late one afternoon, Federal Express arrived with
a package for Agent Dietrich. He removed a thread
from the blue sweater and compared it to a blue fiber
from the car.>>And there was this feeling
of exhilaration that he had made contact with the victim.
In some way, the victim was talking to him,
was giving him the evidence that he needed to put her
in the front seat of the car.>>narrator: Dietrich would make
over 7,000 comparisons between similar blue fabrics
without detecting another match, proving the significance
of his initial finding. He uncovered other matches
as well, including red threads from the skirt.
And in a critical deduction, he showed that the number
of fibers in the car was strong evidence
that Melissa removed her jacket. Although she has yet
to be found, Cal Hughes was convicted of abduction and
sentenced to 50 years in prison. Melissa’s tragedy stunned
her family and her community. Just one year earlier,
the global community was shocked by a crime that shattered
hundreds of families. It began in a small
Scottish town, and it ended as the greatest investigation
in crime history.>>narrator:
ON NOVEMBER 1, 1955, A UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT
EN ROUTE FROM DENVER TO PORTLAND EXPLODED IN MIDAIR,
KILLING ALL 44 PEOPLE ABOARD. FOR THE FIRST TIME
IN U.S. HISTORY, A CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT
HAD FALLEN PREY TO A BOMBER. A FEW DAYS LATER,
POLICE ARRESTED 23-YEAR-OLD JACK GILBERT GRAHAM,
WHO ADMITTED TO PLANTING A BOMB IN THE SUITCASE
OF ONE OF THE PASSENGERS. THAT PASSENGER WAS HIS MOTHER.
HIS MOTIVE: COLLECTING ON HER TRAVEL INSURANCE.
GRAHAM WAS EXECUTED FOR HIS CRIMES,
BUT HE HAD INAUGURATED A NEW ERA OF MASS MURDER.
IN THE 1960s AND ’70s, A SERIES OF BOMBINGS
ROCKED THE U.S. THE FBI RESPONDED BY CREATING
A SPECIAL EXPLOSIVES UNIT IN 1972.
IN RECENT YEARS, THAT UNIT HAS BATTLED BOMBERS
FAR MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN JACK GILBERT GRAHAM. [explosion]
>>THE TECHNOLOGY OF TERRORISM IS ESCALATING.
I THINK THE TECHNOLOGY OF INVESTIGATING
MAY BE ESCALATING FASTER. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MAJOR
TERRORIST ATTACKS, INVESTIGATORS TODAY
APPROACH THESE CASES WITH A ZEAL AND A MOTIVATION
LIKE NEVER BEFORE. THEY KNOW THE TECHNOLOGY
IS AVAILABLE TO SOLVE THE CASE.>>narrator: NO CASE
WOULD PRESENT INVESTIGATORS WITH A GREATER CHALLENGE
THAN PAN AM 103. ON DECEMBER 21, 1988,
A BOEING 757 JETLINER EXPLODED OVER THE SKIES OF SCOTLAND,
KILLING 259 PEOPLE. IT WAS A SCENE FROM HELL–
DEBRIS AND BODY PARTS RAINING DOWN ON THE COUNTRYSIDE,
SOME VICTIMS STILL STRAPPED INTO THEIR SEATS,
THE SICKENING ODOR OF BURNING FLESH.
THIS WAS A CRIME SCENE OF OVER 800 SQUARE MILES,
CONTAINING MILLIONS OF POSSIBLE CLUES.
THOUSANDS OF OUTRAGED OFFICIALS AND CIVILIANS ALIKE SET OUT
OVER ROLLING HILLS AND SLEEPING TOWNS
TO COLLECT EVERY SCRAP OF POTENTIAL EVIDENCE.
IN THE WORDS OF ONE BRITISH DETECTIVE,
“IF IT’S NOT BREATHING, AND IT’S NOT A ROCK,
PICK IT UP.”>>YOU CAN’T FIND THE MATERIAL
TO EXAMINE UNLESS YOU’RE WILLING TO GRANT THE HUNDREDS
AND HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF MAN-HOURS THAT GO INTO
ACTUALLY COLLECTING THE MATERIAL AT THE CRIME SCENE.
THERE IS NO SHORTCUT FOR THAT.>>narrator: THE ENORMOUS EFFORT
PAID OFF. IN A NEARBY HANGAR,
A GIANT JIGSAW PUZZLE WAS SLOWLY ASSEMBLED
FROM MILLIONS OF PIECES. EVENTUALLY, INVESTIGATORS
LITERALLY RECONSTRUCTED THE JET. THE ENTIRE PROCESS
WOULD TAKE YEARS. BUT JUST DAYS
AFTER THE EXPLOSION, THEY FOUND A THREE- BY EIGHT-INCH FRAGMENT
OF METAL RAILING FROM THE CARGO HOLD.
IT SHOWED THE DISTINCTIVE PITTING AND CATERING
FOUND ONLY ON SURFACES EXPOSED TO HIGH-INTENSITY EXPLOSIONS.
THIS TINY SHARD CONFIRMED THAT A BOMB WAS RESPONSIBLE
AND LOCATED THE BLAST IN THE LUGGAGE COMPARTMENT.
IN THE MONTH THAT FOLLOWED, PAINSTAKING COLLECTION
AND ANALYSIS UNCOVERED TWO MORE VITAL CLUES.
OBJECTS NEAR GROUND ZERO WERE COATED WITH RESIDUE
OF THE EXPLOSIVE SEMTEX, A HIGH-ENERGY PLASTIC EXPLOSIVE
KNOWN TO BE USED BY TERRORISTS. AND THE DAMAGE ON THE REMAINS
OF A TOSHIBA RADIO SHOWED THAT IT HAD HOUSED THE BOMB.
>>Fisher: KNOWING THAT IT WAS A TOSHIBA RADIO,
KNOWING IT WAS SEMTEX, THEY WERE ABLE TO RECONSTRUCT
THE BOMB. SO THE FBI CRIME LAB
BUILT BOMBS. THEY PUT THEM
IN LUGGAGE CONTAINERS FILLED WITH SUITCASES,
AND THEY BLEW THEM UP. WHEN THEY WERE ABLE TO REPLICATE
ALMOST EXACTLY THE DAMAGE TO THE LUGGAGE CONTAINER
THAT HAD BEEN ABOARD PAN AM 103, THEY FELT THAT THEY HAD LOCATED
THAT BOMB ON THAT AIRPLANE WITHIN TEN INCHES.
>>narrator: THE BOMB WAS PINPOINTED TO A SECTION
OF THE CARGO HOLD CONTAINING LUGGAGE FROM
A CONNECTING FLIGHT TO MALTA. MEANWHILE, THE REMAINS
OF CLOTHING USED TO WRAP THE BOMB WERE TRACED
TO THE STOREMARY’S HOUSE, ALSO OF MALTA.
THE SHOPKEEPER RECALLED THE MAN WHO HAD BOUGHT THE CLOTHES
PRECISELY BECAUSE HE HAD PURCHASED AN ODD MIX
OF UNRELATED ITEMS. AS INVESTIGATORS
LEFT MARY’S HOUSE, THEY NOTICED A BUILDING
ACROSS THE STREET– THE LIBYAN EMBASSY.
THE WEB WAS CLOSING. TWO YEARS AFTER THE CRASH,
SEARCHERS IN LOCKERBIE STRUCK UPON A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK:
A THUMBNAIL-SIZE CIRCUIT FROM THE BOMB’S TIMING DEVICE.
>>WITH ALL THE MATERIAL ABOARD, ALL THE ELECTRONICS
ON THAT PLANE, HOW DO YOU NARROW DOWN YOUR SEARCH
AND FIND ONE LITTLE LESS THAN ONE-INCH-SQUARE
CIRCUIT BOARD WHEN THERE ARE HUNDREDS, LITERALLY THOUSANDS,
OF CIRCUIT BOARDS ON THAT PLANE? THE INVESTIGATORS
IN GREAT BRITAIN FOUND THAT FRAGMENT.
THEY KNEW IT WAS UNIQUE. THEY KNEW IT WAS ESPECIALLY
IMPORTANT, AND THEY SET ABOUT WITH THE REST OF THE TASK FORCE
TRYING TO IDENTIFY THE SOURCE OF THAT.
>>narrator: LETTERING ON THE CIRCUIT BOARD
HAD BEEN SCRATCHED OFF TO HIDE ITS ORIGINS.
BUT INFRARED PHOTOGRAPHY UNVEILED LETTERS HIDDEN
BENEATH THE SCRATCHES. THE MANUFACTURER WAS REVEALED
AS MEBO, SWISS MAKERS OF HIGH-QUALITY TIMERS.
THE COMPANY RELUCTANTLY ADMITTED HAVING SOLD 20 OF THE TIMERS
TO THE LIBYAN GOVERNMENT.>>Ronay: THE MORE SOPHISTICATED
THE TERRORIST GETS, THE MORE EVIDENCE
HE LEAVES BEHIND. IN PAN AM 103, HE USED
A VERY SOPHISTICATED TIMER, A UNIQUE TIMER, A TIMER THAT–
I’M SURE THAT THE TERRORIST THOUGHT WOULD NEVER BE TRACED
BACK TO HIM; IN FACT, WOULD NEVER BE FOUND.
>>narrator: TWO LIBYAN NATIONALS WERE INDICTED
FOR THE MURDERS OF THOSE ABOARD PAN AM 103.
THEY REMAIN AT LARGE SOMEWHERE IN LIBYA,
FUGITIVES HIDING FROM AN OUTRAGED WORLD.
>>Fisher: WHEN YOU START WITH AN AIRPLANE
THAT HAS BEEN EXPLODED LITERALLY INTO MILLIONS
OF PIECES, MANY OF THEM NO LARGER THAN A THUMBNAIL,
AND YOU’RE ABLE TO TRACE THAT BACK TO TWO PEOPLE
WHO PUT THAT BOMB ABOARD THE AIRPLANE,
YOU KNOW THAT YOU’VE SEEN ONE OF THE GREAT INVESTIGATIONS
IN CRIMINAL HISTORY.>>narrator: PAN AM 103
IS BUT ONE OF MANY CASES PITTING FANATICAL TERRORISTS
AGAINST MODERN SCIENCE. FIVE YEARS
AFTER THE LOCKERBIE TRAGEDY, THE NEW TECHNIQUE
OF DNA FINGERPRINTING WOULD IMPLICATE THE MEN
BEHIND THE WORST ACT OF FOREIGN TERRORISM ON U.S. SOIL.
>>narrator: FOR NEARLY A CENTURY, FINGERPRINTS WERE
THE MOST RELIABLE MEANS OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUALS.
BUT IN JUST THE LAST DECADE, AN INFORMATION-AGE TECHNOLOGY
HAS REVOLUTIONIZED FORENSIC SCIENCE.
CRIME-FIGHTING HAS ENTERED THE ERA OF DNA.
>>Ferrara: WHILE ONE CAN PUT ON A PAIR OF GLOVES AND PREVENT
LEAVING FINGERPRINTS, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE
FOR AN INDIVIDUAL TO ENGAGE IN A ACT OF VIOLENCE
AND NOT LEAVE SOME CALLING CARD IN THE FORM
OF CELLULAR MATERIAL– SALIVA ON A CIGARETTE BUTT,
PERSPIRATION IN A HATBAND, INDIVIDUAL HAIRS–ANY NUMBER OF
DIFFERENT, CELLULAR, BIOLOGICAL MATERIALS ALL HAVE THE SAME
DNA PROFILE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL.>>Fisher: IN THE
WORLD TRADE CENTER CASE, AFTER THE BOMBING, SOMEBODY
WROTE A LETTER TO THENEW YORK TIMES CLAIMING
RESPONSIBILITY AND THREATENING FURTHER BOMBINGS.
WHEN SUSPECTS WERE IDENTIFIED, THEY WERE ABLE TO MATCH
ONE SUSPECT TO THE LETTER BY SHOWING HIS DNA IN THE SALIVA
USED TO LICK THE STAMP, PROVING HE HAD SENT THIS LETTER.
AND THERE WAS INFORMATION IN THAT LETTER
THAT DIRECTLY ASSOCIATED HIM WITH THE BOMBING.
>>narrator: WITH THE EXCEPTION OF TWINS, THE DNA OF EACH PERSON
IS UNIQUE TO THAT INDIVIDUAL. DNA TECHNOLOGY
CANNOT ONLY TRAP THE GUILTY, BUT EXONERATE THE INNOCENT.
>>IF IT’S NOT YOUR DNA, YOU WEREN’T THERE.
SO IF THERE’S A RAPE CASE AND THEY FIND SEMEN AND IT’S NOT
THE DNA OF A SUSPECT, HE IS NOT THE PERPETRATOR
OF THAT CRIME. AND IN FACT, IN ABOUT A THIRD
OF ALL CASES TO THIS POINT, DNA HAS SUCCESSFULLY
EXCLUDED SUSPECTS FROM CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.
>>narrator: DNA HAS ONLY BEEN ALLOWED IN TRIALS SINCE 1988.
BUT IF EVIDENCE SAMPLES ARE PROPERLY PRESERVED,
IT CAN REACH BACK ACROSS THE YEARS TO RIGHT OLD WRONGS.
>>Bloodsworth: THEY KNOCKED ON THE DOOR.
THEY HAD THE PLACE SURROUNDED WITH POLICE CARS AND PISTOLS
DRAWN AND THE WHOLE BIT. AND I KEPT SAYING,
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU KNOW, THIS IS CRAZY.”
“WELL, YOU’RE BEING ARRESTED. WE HAVE A WARRANT
FOR YOUR ARREST FOR FIRST DEGREE MURDER
IN THE DEATH OF DAWN HAMILTON, THE LITTLE GIRL.”
AND I SAID, “YOU’RE OUT OF YOUR DAMN MIND.”
>>narrator: IN 1984, THE BODY OF NINE-YEAR-OLD DAWN HAMILTON
WAS FOUND IN A WOODED AREA IN ROSEDALE, MARYLAND.
SHE HAD BEEN RAPED AND MURDERED. JAYNE MILLER OF BALTIMORE
TELEVISION STATION WBAL COVERED THE BRUTAL CRIME
AND ITS LONG AFTERMATH.>>Miller: THE ENTIRE AREA
REACTED WITH SHOCK. IT WAS EVERY PARENT’S NIGHTMARE;
THEIR WORST FEAR. AS WE CONDUCTED OUR
INVESTIGATION INTO THIS CASE, ONE DETECTIVE WHO HAD WORKED
ON THE CASE FROM THE BEGINNING TOLD US, THERE WAS A MENTALITY
IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TO GET SOMEBODY.
THERE WAS SO MUCH PRESSURE TO SOLVE THE CASE
AND TO FIND SOMEONE, TO ARREST SOMEONE,
TO BRING ABOUT SOME KIND OF RELIEF TO THE COMMUNITY.
>>Bloodsworth: THE PRESSURE UPON THEM WAS SO GREAT THAT
THE FIRST NIBBLE OF ANYTHING, THEY JUMPED ON AND SNOWBALLED IT
INTO THIS GREAT AVALANCHE OF WHAT HAPPENED TO ME
FOR NINE YEARS– ACTUALLY 8 YEARS, 11 MONTHS,
AND 19 DAYS OF HELL.>>narrator: KIRK BLOODSWORTH
WAS 22 WHEN DAWN WAS MURDERED. HE WAS A BLUE-COLLAR EX-MARINE
NEWLY MOVED TO ROSEDALE, AN OUTSIDER IN THE UPPER
MIDDLE CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD. A YOUNG BOY WHO HAD WITNESSED
THE CRIME WHILE LOOKING UP A HILL INTO THE SUN
IDENTIFIED KIRK AS THE CULPRIT. THE POLICE JUMPED ON
THE QUESTIONABLE ID, HAULING KIRK INTO CUSTODY.
TOO POOR TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY, HE WAS DEALT ONE FROM
THE PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE.>>Bloodsworth: AND HE
SITS DOWN, AND HE TELLS ME, “WELL, MR. BLOODSWORTH, I
REALLY BELIEVE YOU’RE INNOCENT. I THINK YOU’RE AN INNOCENT MAN.
AND I GOTTA TELL YOU, I REALLY KNOW MY WAY AROUND
A COURTROOM. AND THERE’S NO PLACE
I CAN’T FIND MY WAY AROUND.” HE GETS UP, AND WE
COULDN’T SHAKE HANDS, YOU KNOW. HE SAYS, GOOD-BYE,
AND HE TURNS AROUND AND GRABS HIS COAT
AND RUNS RIGHT INTO THE WALL. NOW, THAT’S–I SAID TO MYSELF,
“WELL, I’M IN DEEP […],” YOU KNOW?
HERE’S A MAN THAT’S TELLING ME ALL THIS CRAP, AND HE CAN’T
EVEN FIND HIS WAY OUT OF A DOOR HE JUST COME THROUGH.
AND IT REALLY TURNED OUT THAT WAY.
IT WAS A FARCE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
>>narrator: BY ALL ACCOUNTS, KIRK’S TRIAL WAS A MISMATCH.
ON ONE SIDE, AN OUTSIDER REPRESENTED
BY AN INCOMPETENT LAWYER; ON THE OTHER,
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY BACKED BY AN OUTRAGED TOWN
DEMANDING JUSTICE.>>Miller: IMAGINE BEING A JUROR
IN THIS CASE, SITTING THERE LISTENING TO THIS
VERY HORRIBLE GRAPHIC TESTIMONY OF HOW THIS LITTLE GIRL DIED,
WHAT WAS DONE TO HER, AND BEING CHARGED WITH FINDING
WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. IT WAS A TOUGH SPOT
FOR A JURY TO BE IN, BECAUSE THEY’RE LOOKING
AT THIS GUY WHO IS– THE POLICE SAY HE DID IT.
>>Bloodsworth: THEY SLAMMED ME, CONVICTED ME ON ALL COUNTS,
AND THE COURTROOM ERUPTED IN APPLAUSE.
AND WHEN I WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH, THEY DID THE SAME THING.
AND THEY PARTIED UP UNTIL 2:00 IN THE MORNING.
AND I THOUGHT HOW FRICKING MORBID THAT WAS,
YOU KNOW. THEY DON’T KNOW ME.
>>narrator: AWAITING EXECUTION, KIRK WAS MOVED TO DEATH ROW
AT THE MARYLAND PENITENTIARY IN DOWNTOWN BALTIMORE,
THE OLDEST PRISON STILL IN USE IN AMERICA.
INMATES KNOW IT AS “CASTLE DRACULA.”
>>IT WAS SO TERRIBLE. I REMEMBER THE POWER GOING OFF
IN PRISON ONE TIME. AND I WAS LAYING IN MY BED,
AND I HAD A SINGLE CELL. AND THIS WAS WHEN
I WAS ON DEATH ROW. AND THESE THINGS WERE FALLING
ON ME AND HIT ME IN THE HEAD. I DIDN’T KNOW
WHAT THE HELL IT WAS. AND THE LIGHTS CAME ON.
AND I LOOKED UP, AND I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT.
THERE WAS ABOUT 1,000 ROACHES CRAWLING ON MY CEILING,
DROPPING ON ME, FALLING ON ME. MICE, RATS.
YOU’RE CONVICTED OF A CHILD MURDER,
YOU’RE THE WORST THING IN THERE. AND I WAS BRUTALIZED,
BUT I STOOD UP FOR MYSELF. I’M NOT NO LITTLE PERSON,
YOU KNOW. I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.
I ALMOST GOT STABBED A COUPLE TIMES.
THE PEOPLE IN THE TOP TIERS WOULD PISS ON YOU,
THROW FECES ALL OVER THE PLACE, FLOOD YOU OUT.
>>narrator: FOR KIRK, TIME WAS RUNNING OUT.
NO ONE BELIEVED HIS PROTESTATIONS OF INNOCENCE.
AFTER TWO YEARS ON DEATH ROW, HE WAS SLIDING EVER CLOSER
TO HIS APPOINTMENT WITH THE GAS CHAMBER.
>>Bloodsworth: I WAS ON DEATH ROW AT THE
MARYLAND PENITENTIARY, TIER “A.” I WAS THERE FOR TWO YEARS.
ACTUALLY, I WAS OVER THE TOP OF THE GAS CHAMBER.
I SLEPT RIGHT OVER THE TOP OF IT.
I WAS RIGHT ON THAT CORNER ABOUT 15 FEET AWAY.
NOW I’M ON DEATH ROW WAITING TO GET EXECUTED
FOR SOMEBODY ELSE’S EVIL. AND THIS ISN’T GONNA HAPPEN
TO ME. NO WAY IN HELL
AM I GONNA LET IT HAPPEN.>>narrator: KIRK FOUGHT VAINLY
TO ESCAPE HIS DUNGEON, SHOUTING HIS INNOCENCE
INTO A LONG LINE OF DEAF EARS.>>Bloodsworth:
I WROTE EVERYBODY FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
TO DONALD TRUMP JUST TO TRY– “WELL, MAYBE I’LL WRITE HIM,”
YOU KNOW. “MAYBE I’LL WRITE HIM,”
YOU KNOW. “MAYBE I’LL WRITE THIS PERSON.
MAYBE I’LL WRITE HER. MAYBE I’LL CALL THIS PERSON.”
AND MY FATHER AND MOTHER WERE DOING THE SAME THING.
>>narrator: TO MAINTAIN HIS SANITY, KIRK TOOK TO READING
EVERYTHING FROM GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY TO STEPHEN KING–
OVER 3,000 BOOKS DURING HIS YEARS IN PRISON.
HE POURED OVER LEGAL TOMES, EDUCATING HIMSELF
ABOUT THE RULES OF DISCOVERY, ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED,
AND ABOUT FORENSIC SCIENCE. THEN ONE FATEFUL DAY,
HE PICKED UP THE NONFICTION THRILLER
THE BLOODING BY JOSEPH WAMBAUGH.
ITS STORY FEATURED A STILL-EXPERIMENTAL PROCESS
CALLED DNA FINGERPRINTING.>>Miller: YOU COULD NOT HAVE
A CONVERSATION WITH KIRK AT THAT TIME IN 1987 AND 1988
AND ’89 WITHOUT HIM BRINGING UP DNA AND ALL THE EXPERIMENTATION
THAT WAS GOING ON WITH IT. HE WAS THE ONE
THAT WAS REALLY PUSHING THIS. I HAVE AN ENTIRE BOX OF LETTERS,
AND IN EACH ONE OF THOSE LETTERS,
SOMEWHERE IN THAT LETTER WOULD APPEAR THE SAME STATEMENTS.
ONE IS, “I DIDN’T DO THIS.” AND SECONDLY,
HE WOULD TALK ABOUT DNA.>>narrator: DNA TYPING
INITIALLY REQUIRED A SIGNIFICANT SAMPLE
FOR TESTING, MORE THAN PRESENT IN KIRK’S CASE.
HE HAD STRUCK ANOTHER DEAD END. BUT BY 1991, JUST THREE YEARS
AFTER DNA TESTING WAS INTRODUCED, THE TECHNOLOGY
HAD LEAPED FORWARD. INVESTIGATORS TOOK ANOTHER LOOK
AT THE UNDERWEAR DAWN HAMILTON WORE ON HER FINAL NIGHT.
>>WHAT WAS DISCOVERED ON THIS PAIR OF UNDERWEAR
WAS A VERY TINY SPOT OF SEMEN THAT HAD NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE,
BECAUSE THE TECHNOLOGY WASN’T AVAILABLE TO SEE IT.
AND WITH WHAT’S CALLED PCR, THAT ALLOWS THAT LITTLE SPOT
TO BE MAGNIFIED, TO BE ENLARGED, SO THAT IT CAN BE TESTED.
>>narrator: HELPED BY A NEW TEAM OF LAWYERS,
KIRK PRESSED TO HAVE THE UNDERWEAR TESTED.
HE KNEW THAT VINDICATION LAY AT HAND.
YET STILL, HE LANGUISHED IN JAIL.
>>THE PROSECUTION AGREED. THEY SAID “THEY HAD REASON
TO BELIEVE THAT HE’S NOT THE ONE THAT DEPOSITED THE SEMEN.
WE’RE GONNA CUT HIM LOOSE.” AND THEY WROTE AN AGREEMENT
WHICH WE ALL SIGNED TO THIS EFFECT.
AND IT TOOK A YEAR. I CALLED THEM EVERY DAY,
EVERY DAY, EVERY DAY. “DID YOU GET THE RESULTS BACK?”
>>narrator: WHILE AWAITING THE TEST RESULTS,
KIRK LOST THE ONE PERSON WHO NEVER DOUBTED HIM:
HIS MOTHER. PROHIBITED FROM ATTENDING
HER FUNERAL, HE WAS TAKEN IN SHACKLES TO THE FUNERAL HOME.
>>AND NOBODY COULD BE THERE. I DIDN’T SEE MY FATHER THERE
OR NOTHING; I WAS THERE BY MYSELF.
AND I HAD LEG CHAINS ON, WAIST CHAIN, HANDCUFFS,
AND BLOCK. AND THAT’S HOW I HAD TO BE
WITH MY MOTHER. I REMEMBER KISSING HER GOOD-BYE.
AND THAT WAS IT. I WAS THERE FIVE MINUTES.
>>narrator: KIRK HAD ENDURED NINE YEARS OF JAIL,
AGING FROM 23 TO 32. HE HAD WITHSTOOD THE ABUSE
OF INMATES AND JAILERS ALIKE. HE HAD WAITED OVER A YEAR
FOR THE DNA TO BE TESTED AND RETESTED.
>>I PICKED UP THE PHONE THAT DAY IN MAY OF 1993, AND ALL
I COULD HEAR ON THE OTHER END WAS KIND OF THIS
JOYFUL SCREAMING. AND AT FIRST,
I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHO IT WAS, AND THEN
A COUPLE OF SECONDS LATER, IT COULD ONLY BE ONE PERSON.
IT WAS KIRK SAYING, “IT’S NOT ME.
THE DNA TESTS ARE BACK, AND IT’S NOT ME.”
>>Bloodsworth: I HAD MY KEY TO UNLOCK THAT DAMN DOOR
THAT HELD ME FOR SO MANY YEARS. I WENT ABSOLUTELY APE […]
AT THAT POINT. I THREW MY HANDS UP IN THE AIR,
AND I STARTED SCREAMING, RUNNING DOWN THE TIER,
TEARS RUNNING DOWN MY FACE. I JUST KNEW THAT IT WAS OVER.
>>man: HOW DOES IT FEEL, MAN? HOW DOES IT FEEL?
>>GREAT. FANTASTIC. SERIOUSLY.
I’VE JUST GOT A LOT OF FLOOD OF EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW.
IT’S HARD TO DESCRIBE. HARD TO DESCRIBE.
I’M HAPPY. JUST HAPPY.>>narrator: DNA TYPING
HAS EXISTED FOR LESS THAN ONE DECADE.
ITS PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE IS LIMITLESS.
>>WHEN YOU SPEAK, YOU SPEW DNA OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
THE LOOSEST CELLS IN YOUR BODY ARE THE CELLS ON THE INSIDE
OF YOUR CHEEK. WHEN YOU TALK ON A TELEPHONE,
YOU’RE LEAVING DNA ON THAT TELEPHONE.
THEY’RE DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGIES NOW TO TAKE IT OFF
THE TELEPHONE–TO IDENTIFY YOU AS THE PERSON WHO USED
THAT PHONE. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
IS ONLY NOW BEGINNING TO BE APPLIED TO CRIME-FIGHTING.
WHAT STARTED TO HAPPEN IS EXTRAORDINARY.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE NEXT 15 OR 20 YEARS
IS MIND-BOGGLING.>>narrator: TO DATE,
ONLY ABOUT TWO DOZEN PRISONERS HAVE BEEN FREED BY DNA EVIDENCE.
BUT AS THE TECHNOLOGY BECOMES CHEAPER AND MORE WIDELY USED,
HUNDREDS OF UNJUSTLY JAILED MAY BE RELEASED
FROM THEIR NIGHTMARES. DNA WILL BE THEIR WEAPON
AGAINST HUMAN PASSIONS, THE FEAR OF EVIL,
THE DESIRE FOR VENGEANCE.>>Miller: THE MOMENT THE JURY
SAW THE PICTURES OF THAT LITTLE GIRL,
THEY HAD TO HAVE A TERRIBLE REACTION TO IT.
BECAUSE IT WAS VICIOUS. EVERYBODY ON THAT JURY
COULD IMAGINE IF THAT WAS THEIR OWN LITTLE GIRL.
THE BENEFIT OF DNA IS THAT IT REMOVES ALL THAT EMOTION.
IT’S A PIECE OF SCIENCE THAT DOESN’T ALLOW THE EMOTION
TO TAINT IT.>>Bloodsworth: I STILL
HAVE DREAMS ABOUT IT TODAY– I MEAN, TO THIS VERY DAY–
THAT I’M BEING LED DOWN THE HALLWAY TO THE DEATH CHAMBER
AND STRAPPING ME IN. AND I JUST HAPPEN TO BE
IN THE EASY CHAIR, AND I WAKE UP.
>>narrator: KIRK WAS EXONERATED BY A DROP OF FLUID.
THE NEXT MAN MAY BE CONVICTED BY DNA CELLS
LEFT ON A TELEPHONE. JUST AS SHERLOCK HOLMES
REVOLUTIONIZED CRIME-FIGHTING A CENTURY AGO,
WE ARE NOW ENTERING A NEW ERA IN CRIME SCIENCE.
DETECTIVES HAVE TRADITIONALLY SEARCHED FOR A SMOKING GUN.
CRIMINOLOGISTS OF THE FUTURE WILL NEED ONLY THE SMOKE.